Congressman Al Green Offers Statement as House of Representatives Passes Resolution Honoring Juneteenth

Jun 21, 2005 Issues: Social Security

(Washington, DC)--Today, Congressman Al Green (TX-9) joined 424 of his colleagues in passing a resolution recognizing the historical significance of Juneteenth. Below is Congressman Al Green's statement:

"Mr. Speaker, I would like to extend my support for House Concurrent Resolution 160, a resolution that honors the national significance of June 19, 1865 when slaves in Texas were finally freed. I would like to thank Congressman Davis for his leadership and all of the supporters of this important piece of legislation.

"On June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas and announced the freedom of the last American slaves; belatedly freeing 250,000 slaves in Texas nearly two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The day coined Juneteenth was first celebrated in the Texas state capital in 1867 under the direction of the Freedmens' Bureau. Today, Juneteenth remains the oldest known celebration of slavery's demise. It commemorates freedom while acknowledging the sacrifices and contributions made by courageous African Americans towards making our great nation the more conscious and accepting country that it has become.

"Not until 1979 when my friend State Representative Al Edwards introduced the bill did Juneteenth become a Texas state holiday. It was first celebrated as such in 1980. Now 25 years later the United States House of Representatives will pass House Concurrent Resolution 160 as our nation celebrates Juneteenth. As the Representative of the Ninth Congressional District of Texas, I am pleased to join my colleagues in acknowledging the historical significance of Juneteenth, as we remain ever-vigilant in recognizing that history should be regarded as a means for understanding the past and solving the challenges of the future.

"Civil rights pioneer Martin Luther King Jr. once said, 'Freedom is never free,' and African American labor leader A. Phillip Randolph often said 'Freedom is never given. It is won.' We should all recognize the power and the ironic truth of those statements and we should pause to remember the enormous price paid by all Americans in our country's quest to realize its promise. Juneteenth honors the end of the 400 years of suffering African Americans endured under slavery and celebrates the legacy of perseverance that has become the hallmark of the African-American community and its struggle for equality.

"As we celebrate the 140th anniversary of Juneteenth, I ask that all of my colleagues join me in reflecting upon its significance. Because it was only after that day in 1865 when General Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, on the heels of the most devastating conflict in our country's history, in the aftermath of a civil war that pitted brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, and threatened to tear the fabric of our union apart forever that America truly became the land of the free and the home of the brave."